I had been wanting to visit Restaurant Arras since first reading Simon Thomsen's review back in early 2008. I don't exactly know why, but Buggles was always strongly resistant to the idea.
Every now & then I would throw up the suggestion "How about we go to Arras", always to be met with a firm "no". So I was quite surprised when I said to Buggles "Where should I book for next Saturday, The Cut or Restaurant Arras?" and she responded "Arras". I don't know what changed, but I am very glad it had.
We visit the Walsh Bay area regularly thanks to our STC subscription...so for me, Restaurant Arras has always been tantalisingly within reach. I have never wanted it to be a pre-theatre experience though, I wanted to relax, take my time.
So finally the night of our reservation arrived and we were both looking forward to the meal ahead.
The first thing we notice is how dark the room is and I immediately realise in this low light taking photos will be tricky (the very bad results speak for themselves). We are impressed however with the decor, lots of brick & dark timber. The tables are large, generous & very well spaced, they could have squeezed many more tables in here, but thankfully haven't.
We are taken to our table by Alon the Manager (ex Quay and it shows....professional, knowledgeable, courteous), seated & very promptly presented with a glass bowl brimming with fennel & poppyseed crisps, some of the crisps have a sweetness to them, so am not sure if they have been glazed with honey, they all delicious though, sweet & savoury. Underneath the crisps is a bed of delectable caramelised peanuts. A perfect way to begin the meal.
Next to arrive is the house made bread, a vast selection including white & brown sourdoughs, pumpkin, onion, fennel & stout & a few more I can't remember. I chose the onion & Buggles the fennel & stout. As I tear open my still warm onion roll I am bowled over by the rich, sweet smell of onion, served with lashing of the room temperature butter it is divine. The fennel & stout roll is a little heavy & stodgy & doesn't really deliver on the promised fennel....so on bread round number 2, we decide to share another onion roll.
Following this we decide to forgo what has become our 'usual', a sparkling wine, and decide on a couple of cocktails. I go with the 'Arras Butterfly' muddled lemon, vanilla vodka, butterscotch schnapps, lemoncello and sugar syrup. This cocktail is fresh, vibrant & lemony, not too sweet...perfect. Buggles ordered 'Campari in the City', Campari, Belvedere Pomara´ncza, Cointreau, cranberry juice. This cocktail was quite bitter, tempered with a touch of sweetness & still quite refreshing.
The amuse bouche arrived shortly after.....Pumpkin Patch.
Beautiful to look at, this was a dish of varying textures of pumpkin...pureed, silky smooth rolls, crunchy swirls & roasted seed. This was a very enjoyable & wonderfully conceived dish.
We were now ready for our entrees. Buggles went with Crab Eggy bread, dressed crab, jelly & custard.
This is another attractive dish. Brioche style bread, dipped in egg, filled with crab & golden fried, served alongside rolled, dressed & beautifully sweet crab with caviar like balls of jelly & a puddle of custard. The frozen avocado puree added another element to the dish as did the tomato jelly - a very well seasoned and flavoursome dish.